In December, two fans were given the opportunity to attend the 2012 NHL Winter Classic in Philadelphia from a contest on the Sharks Facebook Page. Here is Sharks fan Daniel Corona's experience.
BEFORE THE TRIP
|Daniel, Darcy, and Rich at the Winter Classic. |
My 'Road to the Winter Classic' isn’t one for HBO but it was my road nonetheless. It all started with a phone call. There I was minding my own business after a day’s work, I believe the Penguins-Blackhawks game was on when out of nowhere my phone starts ringing. I normally don’t answer calls from unknown numbers, but this call this time I picked up not knowing who was on the other line. “I’m calling to tell you that you won a trip for two to THE WINTER CLASSIC!"
At this point I was in a little bit of a shock and disbelief, as I don’t win cool things like this. I enter contests a lot and I never win. She gave me the details we finished our conversation and ended the call. The second I hung up I started thinking, okay which one of my friends is clever enough to pull this kind of elaborate prank on me?
It was no prank, thus I hopped on one of the first flights out of SFO bound for Philadelphia. I flew solo but I had a friend from Philly that let his friends and family know that he had a Cali boy coming out for the game. Judging from the response his Facebook post received, I could tell I was in for a good time.
THE ROAD TO PHILLY
|With Brendan Shanahan (middle) and Kevin Weekes (right) |
I arrived in Philly around 9 PM with layovers, which was no fun but as soon as I stepped off the plane I felt the Winter Classic in the air. You can tell Philly was honored to host the Classic there this year and it had somewhat of a All-Star game vibe to it. There were banners and commercials playing on all of the TV monitors.
The Marriot Downtown Philly was all about the Winter Classic with banners everywhere; even my room was Winter Classic themed.
I ran into a lot of hockey history there, Barry Melrose was sitting at a bar and little did I know he was waiting for Brendan Shanahan and Kevin Weekes.
I didn’t get to sleep much as my mental clock was still stuck on West Coast time.
THE WINTER CLASSIC
The next morning came fast and the Winter Classic day was here. I decided to wear my Sharks gear to the game, I had to rep my team and the ones who sent me there. I did happen to bring a Philly jersey and wanted to support the home team, only catch was that it was a Flyers 'Nitty' jersey (current Sharks goaltender Antero Niittymaki
). Still supporting my Sharks even thought it was a different team’s jersey (and not Ilya Bryzgalov’s).
As I rode the Orange Line to Citizens bank Park, I could feel the eyes of the Philly fans stabbing me all around, but they were not playing the Sharks so they held their tongues.
I expected to hear something from someone considering it wasn’t a team that was playing. A few Flyers fans appreciated the Sharks and said, “We got a great team over here.” A Rangers fan tried giving me lip on my way to meet up with my friends, yelling out: “Sharks, haha yeah what time do they play?” To which I replied, "5 PM!", because we played the Canucks later that day (which we won in the shootout BTW).
|Daniel with another Sharks fan at the game |
I met up with my friends out in the parking lot where I was welcomed with open arms and food and drinks. The parking lot was awesome. Fans all around: Rangers, Flyers, everyone just having fun.
In retrospect I should have entered the park a lot sooner to get the full tour of the stadium. I went in around 2:30 PM and found my seats. I ran into a few other Sharks fans and waited for the game. The stadium looked awesome from where I sat. I had a great view of the ice and the screen (they say) is the biggest in sports. Both national anthems were sung beautifully and an awesome display of respect as those both went on. The Roots were the house band for the night.
The boos rang out as the Rangers came out and a loud roar bellowed as the Flyers took the ice. I could only imagine how loud 40k Shark fans would sound if we got to have an outside game like this in the Bay Area. We are loud with 18k in The Tank and I could only dream for now about that ever happening.
The experience was great, the outcome of the game wasn’t what I had hoped but they both played a great game. Any city should be proud to have the opportunity to host The Winter Classic and I hope to attend again next year. The fans, the stadium, the game, met every expectation I had. I watched last year’s Winter Classic on TV and said that I wanted to go to one someday. And thanks to our San Jose Sharks, I was able to go this year!
to see more photos from Daniel's trip.